“We didn’t burn them!” Fairy Cake Success

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Hola!

Hola!

It’s been years since I baked. And by ‘baked’ I don’t mean something I’ve sprinkled out of a packet and thrown some milk into. Used to make actual, real cakes. Basic stuff, mind, nowt fancy. My Granda was a baker. Wasn’t the done thing to not know how to knock at least something up with flour, eggs, butter and sugar. Lost the strength to beat the batter, so stuck with all yon overpriced synthetic Betty Crocker nonsense. Should be fine now…a nice confection of chiropractic, yoga, painkillers and multiple supplements I can’t even name are helping my done-in body on bad days. Started buying books on baking, and looking up recipes online, but man…everything looked so far removed from the stuff I watched my Mum make. Even the simplest things seem so damn complicated. They’re fairy cakes, how can a fairy cake need ten bloody ingredients?

Four things. They're made using FOUR THINGS!  This didn't stop me buying a whole whack of baking "equipment". This isn't even half of it.

Four things. They’re made using FOUR THINGS!
This didn’t stop me buying a whole whack of baking “equipment”.
This isn’t even half of it.

Eventually, after reading about 12 recipes for basic cupcakes – all of them different – I gave up, thought fuck it, and tried to remember what used to get chucked in the bowl when I was wee. It’s all about similar amounts, right? I can make a recipe out of this nonsense. Here goes nothing…
IMG_8324FLOUR.
Right. Hiya Fred! We’ll start with flour. 125 grams is the only number that matches in 3 of the bastard recipes.
IMG_8326BUTTER.
We’ll keep the basics on the same level then. 125 grams of butter it is. Unsalted, but he’s still happy.
IMG_8330CASTER SUGAR.
None of your grainy, normal sugar business. Needs to be fine. 125 grams again? Aye.
IMG_8337EGGS.
Shit. Eggs! How many? These recipes are no help with their talk of “Large”…three medium free range fellas will have to do…I’ll just keep adding till it becomes reminiscent of the cake batter I ate raw as a child.
IMG_8331So there’s the ingredients sorted. Now the oven…quick google, and the general consensus seems to be 180 C/160 C Fan Assisted Oven/Gas Mark 4. PREHEAT THE OVEN, AND GO!

1. CREAM THE BUTTER AND SUGAR.
Yaaaasss!! I mean, NOOOOO!! The reason I stopped doing this shit. Shoulda bought a mixer, Shaky Ghost…shoulda bought a mixer…IMG_8332Christ…what the hell…this bastard is – to quote my beloved Stone Cold Steve Austin – ONE TOUGH SON OF A BITCH! Stay on target…STAY ON TARGET. Beat the hell out of that sugar and butter, S.G! On yersel! Screw you, ill things. You’ve stopped me from running, you’ve stopped me doing weights, you’ve messed with my spine, made me stop doing half of my job and now you’re dicking about with my yoga for shits n’ giggles every so often, but GOD DAMN IT – YOU WILL NOT COME BETWEEN ME AND CAKES.
IMG_83352. ADD EGGS AND FLOUR TO CREAMED BUTTER AND SUGAR.
Now, I remember being told something about mixing them in gradually, in alternate amounts. And to always, ALWAYS sift the flour. It adds lightness and airy-ness to cakes, but also…I have vague memories of being told tales of flour bugs? o_O
I read some things about adding baking powder, but don’t ever remember using that in years gone by for fairy cakes? Ah, who cares. I’ll leave it out and see what happens. At worst, they’ll be food for the birds and the mice probably living in the walls.
IMG_8338            IMG_8340
3. DIVIDE BATTER EVENLY BETWEEN CAKE CASES.
Hmmm…he’s looking a bit on the thick side. Oh no. How many cases? I’m sure I remember something about “filling two thirds of the case”…how can I judge “heights” when these looked like – pardon the phrasing – heaps of shite. Okay, so there’s about 12. I’m sure this is fine. Oh God. Make sure the cases are in a bun tin, and not just sitting on a normal baking tray, as this would end in complete and utter “Pinterest Fail” giant-pancake-with-paper-filling disaster. You do not want this.
IMG_83424. EAT REMAINING BATTER LEFT IN BOWL.
Well I did this for years in the eighties and all through some salmonella contamination scares, and I turned out okay. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe don’t take this advice. *OBLIGATORY DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME* etc. I will, because it tastes as good as I remember when me and my big brother fought over it.
IMG_83435. PUT CAKES IN THE PREHEATED OVEN TO BAKE FOR 15 to 20 MINUTES.
IMG_83446. BREATHE SIGH OF RELIEF AS THEY LEVEL OUT.
IMG_83467. PANIC AS THEY START TO RISE AT A TERRIFYING RATE…
IMG_8349…then begin to look normal and less “behemoth-like”…
IMG_83548. REMOVE FROM BUN TIN AND PLACE ON WIRE RACK TO COOL.
IMG_83579. EAT ONE TO CHECK YOU WILL NOT KILL ANYONE.
Thankfully, they have turned out to be cooked right through, and are quite tasty.

10. TO DECORATION! AND BEYOND! ABOUT MAYBE 225g SIFTED ICING SUGAR?
6 TEASPOONS OF WATER TO START, ADD 1/2 a TEASPOON BIT BY BIT.
…until it forms a smooth and spreadable icing that will not dribble all over your cakes and ruin them entirely. Add some food colouring. How much is up to how bright you want them, and how hyperactive you want your kids to be for the rest of the week.
       IMG_8359      IMG_8358
Go pure mental on this part. Make them look tasteful, artistic, minimalist or turn them into crazy bastard nightmares. There are no rules. I often get panicky upon seeing the amount of butter that goes into a good buttercream cake topping, so that shit is being reserved for special occasions. Glace all the way, baby…Oh aye! Check out these wee guys!

Not bad. THEY WORKED!!

Not bad. THEY WORKED!!

11.  REJOICE IN YOUR CREATIONS AND THEIR LACK OF UNEXPLAINED “STABILIZERS”, PRESERVATIVES AND “GUMS”.

Tales of the Little Iron Sheik: Lentil and Bacon, Baby!

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YES!

YES!

There’s a first time for everything, and this weekend saw the birthing of the Little Iron Sheik and his first pot of slow-cooked goodies. Being shit-scared of cooking in general, I decided to play it safe and stick with soup making. I usually manage to not fuck this up completely, and find a multitude of sins can be hidden within its liquified goodness. For reasons of “much loved comfort foods” and “only things I can cook”, myself and the Sheik went for Lentil. With added pig. Mmmmm.
1592 sticks of celery, 3 normal sized carrots, an onion and 2 cloves or garlic were diced.
161About 5 rashers of smoked bacon – with all the fat trimmed off because I’m a bit mental about that – were chopped into decent sized squares. I say chopped, but there was much difficulty and swearing involved before a final “fuck it” resulting in the use of kitchen scissors.
165The bacon was fried gently (on top of the cooker, in the removeable pot of the Iron Sheik because he is downright amazing) until the smell started to make my hungover belly ache with starvation.
166The veggie fellas were then thrown in to the Sheik’s pit and fried until soft.
163While doing this I threw in a teaspoon of dried basil, a pinch of ground nutmeg, 3 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce (oh baby) and seasoned with a good dose of ground black pepper.
164Time for the big guns. A 400g can of chopped tomatoes, 1 litre of ham stock and 200g orange lentils.
169There’s no real need to add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper at this point, but I did. Because pepper and spices are the bomb, and a little bit of chilli makes everything better.
168Here’s a picture of the lentils. Because I like them. No other reason. There’s not another recipe step involved or anything like that. They just make me happy. Look at them. LOOK AT THEM.
171Everything was brought to the boil for about 2-3 minutes then transferred to the base unit of the Iron Sheik. If you look closely, there’s a bit of bacon in this picture that looks like some kind of dinosaur/lizard/alien escaping from John Hurt’s abdomen. Can you see it?
174According to the Sheik’s instructions, soup should be left for at least 4-6 hours on the medium setting, or longer on low. Fuck to that noise. I was so hungry. 3 hours on high would have to do the job…
175…even though I spent an hour of this attempting to see through the glass lid, worrying…”What’s going on?!”…don’t break the seal, DON’T BREAK THE SEAL!
177Holy hell! Check out this bad boy! 3 hours did indeed turn out to be the charm. Thickest, tastiest, spiciest and best lentil and bacon soup I think I’ve ever made. And given that lentil soup, chilli and random stir fries are pretty much the only thing I have ever been able to cook for about 20 years or so, that’s a lot of practice with a big pan which now pales into watery rubbish next to the contents of the Iron Sheik. When are we doing this again, Sheiky baby?

Kawaii Ghosts!

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Kawaii Ghost badge set by Marceline Smith

Spooky Wooky Kawaii Ghost badge set by Marceline Smith

Boo! Check out these spooky fellas! I found them during one of my regular – and insanely long – google searches of the word “ghost”. Designed by illustrator Marceline Smith, the spooks are available to buy on Folksy in Marceline’s shop Asking For Trouble. She has a whole range of cute kawaii things that make me smile and swoon over my computer…look at the toast! Oh Glob.  But the awesome doesn’t end at Folksy, there is a whole WEB SHOP awaiting! *Waves goodbye to paycheck*
Obviously, the badges had to be added to my growing badge collection, then pinned upon regions of last year’s ill-fitting parka.

Look at their faces! They're so damn cute!

They got here so quick! Look at their faces! They’re so damn cute!

Marceline also knows shedloads regarding the publishing of mini comics and zines – which is something I want to learn more about, having shedloads of tiny A7 sized drawings from my time working in hell a call centre in Leith – so I also ordered her fab mini zine ‘Let’s Make Zines‘ which has useful tips and resources. The zine is available in PDF download format for printing too.

More to come on my zine adventurizing in the future. Along with that ever growing badge collection o_O

Custom Converse Tutorial!

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adventuretimeconverse

Look at these amazing Adventure Time shoes! Wish I knew where they came from, but I couldn’t find a picture credit anywhere on the site where I spied them. Note – if anyone can supply a maker/photo credit, I’d be most grateful.

I’ve been a tad obsessed with cutely decorated Converse of late, and feel a step up from indulging in my normal ‘fabric paint on plain white’ shenanigans could be long overdue…
Which is where this fantastic how to from BobsMade comes in. Each stage in the process of creating artwork on black or dark coloured canvas is given in super easy steps. Some of the materials used seem to be German brand name art supplies, but that’s nothing a quick blast through Google can’t fix! Can’t wait to try it out.

bobsmadetutorial

It’s not like I need an excuse to buy yet another pair of these, but this is worth using.